Category Archives: Criminal

The Death Penalty: Jude Kozinski, Ronald Keine , and Mike Farrell

The most recent episode of the Lawyer 2 Lawyer podcast discussed the death penalty with a motley group panel consisting of Judge Alex Kozinski from the United States Court of Appeals for The Ninth Circuit, exonerated death row survivor Ronald Keine from Witness to Innocence, and M*A*S*H actor Mike Farrell from Death Penalty Focus.

Here is a description of the podcast:


The Eighth Amendment protects people from cruel and unusual punishments in the United States but what does that mean? In the last 38 years, Americans used hangings, gas chambers, lethal injections, electrocutions, and firing squads to execute convicted murderers. Given the recent reports of botched lethal injections, some experts are calling for the return of the firing squad as the most humane form of capital punishment. On this episode of Lawyer 2 Lawyer, host J. Craig Williams interviews Judge Alex Kozinski from the United States Court of Appeals for The Ninth Circuit, exonerated death row survivor Ronald Keine from Witness to Innocence, and M*A*S*H actor Mike Farrell from Death Penalty Focus. Together they discuss the merits of firing squads vs. lethal injections, corruption in the judicial system, and the morality of western society. Tune in to hear about the 144 exonerated death row survivors as well as Ronald Keine’s near miss with the gas chamber.

Judge Alex Kozinski sits on the bench of the United States Court of Appeals for The Ninth Circuit where he’s served since his appointment on November 7th 1985. Prior to his appointment Judge Kozinski occupied other prestigious positions including Chief Judge of the US Claims Court and Office of Counsel to the President. He is married with three children plus three grandchildren.

Ronald Keine is an exonerated death row inmate who was just 9 days from his execution in the gas chamber when the actual murderer confessed to the crime. Today, he an Assistant Director of Membership and Training for Witness to Innocence an anti-death penalty organization whose leading voice is that of exonerated death row survivors.

Mike Farrell played Captain BJ Hunnicut for eight years on the hit television show M*A*S*H as well other roles like Jim Hansen in another series called Providence. In the 90s, he served for three years as a member of the State of California’s Commission on Judicial Performance. Mr. Farrell is a life-long opponent of the death penalty and has been the President of Death Penalty Focus since 1994.

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Women Are Not Men

That was the title of a recent rebroadcast of the Freakonomics podcast, which asks what do Wikipedia edits and murder have in common? Answer: women statistically do them far less frequently than men.  The podcast also explores why women tend to be less competitive than men, why they make less and why they have become less happy.

Here is a description of the episode from the Freakonomics website:

We take a look at the ways in which the gender gap is closing, and the ways in which it’s not. You’ll hear about the gender gap among editors of the world’s biggest encyclopedia, and what a study conducted in Tanzania and India has to say about female-male differences in competition. You’ll also hear about the female happiness paradox and one of the biggest gender gaps out there: crime. Which begs the question: if you’re rooting for women and men to become completely equal, should you root for women to commit more crimes?

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March 26, 2014 · 11:58 am

Inside the Boston Bombing Investigation

Yesterday, linked to a This American Life story about an Orlando FBI shooting loosely linked to the Boston Marathon Bombing.  Today, we take you inside the investigation of the investigation of the Boston Bombing.

60 Minutes went “the inside story of the Boston Marathon bombing manhunt.” Here is how the story began:

The two explosions that tore through the Boston Marathon nearly a year ago were like a starting gun on a second race against time. Unknown terrorists were on the loose and they had more bombs. Now, for the first time, you’re going to hear the inside story from the federal investigators who ran the manhunt. They led a taskforce of more than 1,000 federal agents, state police and Boston cops.

Tonight, they will speak of the disturbing evidence that cracked the case and of a debate among the investigators that ultimately led to the dragnet’s violent end. The afternoon of April 15th, the FBI’s man in charge of Boston got a text, “two large explosions near the finish line.” For Special Agent Rick DesLauriers, the marathon became a sprint to catch the killers before they struck again. . . .



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March 25, 2014 · 5:55 pm

Mendocino County Marijuana Regulation v. Federal Prohibition


A recent episode of This American Life discussed the interaction between federal law, which prohibits marijuana growing; California law, which permits it in limited circumstances; and a Mendocino County regulation that attempted to reconcile the two. 


Here is a description of the story: 


Under California law, it’s legal to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes if you have a doctor’s recommendation. A few years ago, Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman was trying to find a way to deal with the proliferation of marijuana in his county. Allman wanted to spend less time dealing with growers who were growing small, legal amounts, so he could focus on other problems — including criminals who run massive marijuana farms in the Mendocino National Forest. So he came up with a plan to allow the small farmers to grow, if they registered with his office. Growers would pay for little zip-ties they could put around the base of their marijuana plants, and the cops would know to leave them alone. It saved time and generated revenue. Reporter Mary Cuddehe tells the story of how the county and the nation responded to the sheriff’s plan. (18 minutes)


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August 26, 2013 · 10:04 pm

County Court Clerk Fired After Providing Public Document to Exonerated Defendant

The most recent episode of This American Life, titled “I Was Just Trying To Help,” told the story of Sharon Snyder a clerk for circuit court judge in Missouri who provided an inmate a motion for DNA testing.  

Here is a description of the story: 

Ira speaks with Sharon Snyder. Until recently, Sharon was a clerk for circuit court judge in Missouri. While she was at work, a man and a woman approached her looking for some paperwork so they could help out their brother, who was in prison for rape. The prisoner claimed he was innocent of the crime and had decided to file a motion for a DNA test. Sharon decided to help the man with the paperwork, which didn’t please her employer. (6 minutes)

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August 21, 2013 · 12:25 pm

The House I Live In

I recently watched “The House I Live In” a documentary about the cost of the War on Drugs. “The House I Live In” won the Grand Jury Prize: Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival. The documentary is available from multiple outlets, including Netflix.

Here is a description of the documentary:

Why We Fight director Eugene Jarecki shifts his focus from the military industrial complex to the War on Drugs in this documentary exploring the risks that prohibition poses to freedom, and the tragedy of addicts being treated as criminals. In the four decades since the War on Drugs commenced, more than 45 millions of addicts have been arrested — and for each one jailed, another family is destroyed. Meanwhile, the prisons in America are growing overcrowded with non-violent criminals, and illegal drugs are still being sold in schoolyards. By examining just where it all went wrong, Jarecki reveals that a solution is possible if we can just find it in ourselves to be compassionate, and see past the decades of paranoia and propaganda.

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August 10, 2013 · 11:17 am

Feel Good Friday: Burglars Return Computers To Charity

Gawker recently ran a story about apologetic burglars who returned the things they stole from a clinic that treats the victims of sexual assault. 

Here is how the story began: 

Burglars rarely return to the scene of the crime — much less in order to return the things they stole.

But that’s exactly what happened in California last week, just hours after the San Bernardino County Sexual Assault Services was robbed of several computer, monitors, and other valuables.

Candy Stallings, who runs the nonprofit, says she was called to the office on July 31st after a report came in about a break-in at the office.

The burglars had climbed in through the walls, disabling security systems and motion detectors as they went.

As Stallings left the scene around 1:30 AM, she overheard an officer explain to some “transients” who had gathered near the building what the nonprofit did.

The office has no sign on the door identifying itself in order to protect victims who seek its services.

Just three hours later, Stallings received another call: The burglars were back. But this time, rather than steal more stuff, they had left some stuff behind.

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August 9, 2013 · 9:42 pm